말하기 D-Day

2011.03.04: 7th Korean Speech and 1st Korean Short Play competition

And I messed up big time! Worse than what I could have imagined, perhaps. I didn’t just forget a few lines – I completely – TOTALLY blacked out!

I just managed to completely memorize my speech the morning of the speech contest (and that was indeed a clear sign that I’m in deep trouble). Here’s a recording of my full speech before I went to school.


* While I was uploading, I listened to it again today. My pronunciation was very terrible! It doesn’t sound like how Koreans talk at all. I don’t think it’s even understandable!*

I started worrying about my oral exam on sociolinguistics that day because I haven’t prepared for it – at all. So I, along with my classmates, started cramming for the exam. Fortunately I did well on the exam (I think so… at least I was able to answer all the questions, I’m just not sure if my answers were enough to satisfy my professor). However it made me more stressed that day.

I changed my clothes then I practiced with my 도우미 one last time. And as much as I want to worry about the parts that I’ve forgotten AGAIN, I don’t have time to do so. The speech contest is starting. Luckily I was part of the second batch of contestants (I’m the 6th) and I thought I can still practice on my seat. However watching the contestants before me makes me nervous – especially when they started forgetting what to say. It must have been really scary up in the stage. Who said something about practicing while waiting for one’s turn?

They were all good though. But no one has connected to the audience yet. They all just go about and recite (and sometimes read) their speeches.

I was also getting a bit sad because I can’t see any of my classmates in the auditorium. Our Korea class is required to join the Korean short play contest too so they were all probably busy preparing. However it would have been wonderful if they can all be there to cheer for me. Especially when I’m feeling really down and nervous.

When it was my turn, they all surprised me with their warm cheers. They were all at the back of the auditorium, costumes and all, cheering for me. It lifted my spirits up.

I heaved a deep breath and took a plunge into one of my most embarrassing, yet most enjoyable and wonderful experience of my “Korean-learning” life.

It was not caught in this video, but we actually played THIS CLIP before I started my speech. And as soon as the video froze I ran to the center of the stage and “continued” the scene by delivering Sam Soon’s famous “가지 마요!” lines. *dies of embarrassment*

I wasn’t planning for such an opening. I was supposed to just say Sam Soon’s lines and get on with my speech. But later on, I realized that not everyone can easily remember THIS SCENE from My Name Is Kim Sam Soon as much as I do.

I’ve only said “가지 마요!” and it was received with warm applause and smiles already. And when I finished delivering Sam Soon’s lines everyone in the auditorium cracked up with laughter.

I wasn’t expecting that my opening will be received that way. Yes, my goal is to attract attention. I was expecting a few smiles and a few laughs. But I’ve never imagined an auditoriumful of people (Filipinos and Koreans alike) laughing and applauding.  It was very overwhelming. Too overwhelming it distracted me. And I forgot my first line!

I don’t understand, but I just can’t find in my head what it was that I was about to say. I know it has something to do with my name and with Sam Soon and with Sam Soon’s name. But it seems like someone shook my brain and jumbled all the words. Fortunately, I was able to relax and get myself back on track right away.

The smile that I managed to plant on the judges’ faces at the beginning of my speech stayed on their faces. They keep nodding and smiling. And I love them for it. I’m not sure if they are just being nice and kind. But I glanced at them a few times during the speeches of the contestants before me and they were never like that.

With my terrible pronunciation aside, I was doing just fine. Until I blacked out again. And I wasn’t able to get myself out of it anymore.

I actually don’t know what happened. I just blacked out. And that’s it. My mind went blank. I don’t know what to say next. And worst, I don’t think I even know where I was on my speech. I tried my best to remember, but I simply can’t. I’m trying to look for clues, but it seems like my brain suddenly stopped working. And my biggest mistake that day – I didn’t bring with me my script on the stage!

I have a cue card with me, and I have the 4th page of my script with me as well – just in case I forget them. But I was VERY (!) confident that I can manage pages 1 to 3, thus I didn’t bring all of them with me (thinking that I would just be tempted to look at them when I have them all with me).

When it was really helpless, I just said “죄송합니다” , went down the stage, took my script, went back on the stage, and read. Yes. Read!

Totally TOTALLY embarrassing! But at that time I couldn’t care less. I just want to be able finish my speech.

I managed to get myself back on track, especially on the part about Hyun Bin 🙂 (no, I’m not a fan, but the part about him is one of my favorite parts). But I never regained my confidence in delivering my speech without the aid of my script. So I still look at (and even read!) it from time to time until the end of my speech.

I believe in what I have written. In fact, boasting aside, I think my speech (the text) is wonderful. IF I felt bad that day, it would just have been because I wasn’t able to deliver my speech the way it deserves to be delivered. The next best thing that I was able to do then was to finish it until the end with the hopes that I was able to get across my message to everyone in the auditorium at least.

The thing is I DIDN’T FEEL BAD at all.

Everything that Shanna said was right. Not that I didn’t believe her, but I thought that it would only be a wonderful experience if you did well (or at least if you didn’t screw up). I was surprised that despite the fact that I didn’t do well, I felt wonderful. It was an amazing and exciting experience. The stage was not scary at all. And I enjoyed every moment of it! And I owe it all to everyone in that auditorium.

Of course I didn’t win anything. But seeing all the judges smiling, laughing and looking at me enthusiastically and being able to connect to the entire crowd was really really priceless, it’s almost as if winning already. The encouraging looks from the judges, my professors, my friends, my classmates and my fellow contestants when I started fumbling warmed my heart.

And how Shanna phrased it, it was indeed a humbling and great learning experience too.

I realized that I was not yet ready for it. A speech contest – my speech to be exact – is still too high for my current level in Korean. My powerpoint presentation has English translations in them. My professor tried to forward the slides and signaled me to go on and just skip the parts that I can’t remember, but I can only stare at them. I wasn’t able (and still won’t be able) to translate them in my own (Korean) words yet.

But I never regretted joining. I joined the speech contest not for winning. I joined because I saw it as an opportunity to help me improve my poor speaking skills (and improve my Korean in general). And I didn’t fail. Alright, so I don’t think I improved a lot in my pronunciation though, ha ha. But at least I was able to determine my weaknesses (ㄱ that I pronounce strangely; ㅎ that I often omit – like I often say 연빈 instead of 현빈; the tricky double consonants that I still can’t pronounce correctly). And I’ve been more mindful about them and I’m trying my best to be extra careful in pronouncing them. And of course there were a lot of new grammar patterns that I learned. Plus a handful of strange vocabularies turned into familiar words now.

I also gained a new Korean friend, my 도우미 Coco. We were already friends prior to the contest, but we became really close because of the speech contest.

Plus got a certificate and a few Korean goodies.

Now… erhm… would someone be kind enough to tell me who these boys are??? ㅋㅋㅋ

I’ve listened to the CD and I liked their songs though!

I’m also grateful for a lot of positive feedback I received after the contest.

I was surprised that there were a number Korean exchange students, most of whom I didn’t even know, who approached me telling me things like they like my speech, that it was very good, or that they also like Kim Sam Soon or Hyun Bin or Kim Sun Ah (that comment definitely made my day and I can’t wait to tell Suna Unnie about it) or that they didn’t know that my Korean was good.

My professor told me she is proud of me and of being my teacher and encouraged me to join again next time.

Last year’s winner said he liked the content of my speech (and that was really awesome coming from him considering that his speech last year was 진짜 정말 완전 대박!)

And one of the judges even told me that I should have been the winner. That was just too much I think (considering the real winner was just within an earshot!). And I could have easily taken it as “The content of your speech is excellent but too bad you are not good enough”. But the look on his face that time (and during my speech as well) wants me to believe that he really meant what he said and that he really enjoyed it. He told me to join again next time. And the best part – he also said that I’m 귀엽다! 꺄~! That last one I’m definitely buying! 🙂

I don’t know if they were just all trying to comfort me or something. But I don’t care. It does made me feel better, so I’m thankful.

And the best part of all – I get to dress up like my idol Kim Sam Soon!

Would I exchange all of these for winning? 절대로 안 돼! 🙂

4 thoughts on “말하기 D-Day

  1. That was a really awesome intro and the content of your speech was great! Of course you shouldn’t feel bad. It was definitely a great experience and clearly you enjoyed it, so you should have no regrets. I really applaud you for trying this. I never even attempted anything like this in French (even though I studied it for five years). So, yaaay, Alodia!^^

    (P.S. 2AM CD???!!! WAAAAH! SO LUCKY!)

  2. 오늘 이 브로그를 찾아 읽었는데 너무 귀여웠어요! 저도 한국어를 공부하고 있어서 그런 힘든 과정을 잘 알아서 열심히 공부하세요~

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